Tuesday, November 09, 2010

#432 Jim Grant

#432 Jim Grant
When I was 11 years old (way back in 1993), the Ted Williams Card Company produced a set of cards featuring prominent players from the 1930s-1970s. I bought some packs, and one of the cards I pulled featured this gentleman and referring to him by his nickname: "Mudcat" Grant. He got the moniker from roommate Larry Doby, who said that Grant was "as ugly as a Mississippi Mudcat". It's a shame that baseball nicknames aren't that mean-spirited any more, huh? Oh, and a late note: I just noticed that the border color is light blue, and not purple like the rest of the Twins in this set. Error card!

Fun facts about Jim Grant:

-Jim grew up in tiny Lacoochee, FL, with eight siblings. His mother raised the children alone after his father died. Jim signed with the Indians in 1954.

-He won 70 games in four minor league seasons and made Cleveland's roster in 1958 at age 22. The rookie led the Tribe with 111 strikeouts and went 10-11 with a 3.84 ERA and 4 saves.

-Grant led his club with a 15-9 record and a 3.86 ERA in 1961.

-His first All-Star selection came in 1963, when he went 13-14 with a 3.69 ERA. The Indian bats were not terribly supportive; a dozen times the team scored two runs or less in his starts, and he went 2-10 in those contests despite a 3.40 ERA.

-After a slow start in 1964 Mudcat was traded to the Twins. He pitched to a 2.82 ERA the rest of the way (26 games) and won 11 games, but was just getting warmed up.

-1965 saw Grant lead Minnesota to the World Series with a 21-7 record and a 3.30 ERA; he was the first black pitcher to win 20 games in American League history. The Sporting News named him Pitcher of the Year. He made a second All-Star squad and paced the A.L. in wins, win percentage, and shutouts (six). He earned complete-game victories in the first and sixth game of the Series, and even belted a three-run homer off of the Dodgers' Howie Reed in the sixth inning of Game Six. He was hit around a bit in the fourth game, but his overall Series stats of 2-1 with a 2.74 ERA are nothing to sneeze at.

-After one more good season in the Twins' rotation (13-13, 3.25 ERA, 10 CG in 1967), he spent several seasons as a well-traveled swingman, putting in time with the Dodgers, Expos, Cardinals, Athletics, and Pirates. In 1970 he led the majors with 80 games pitched for the A's and Pirates, going 8-3 with a 1.86 ERA and 24 saves.

-His final big league appearance came in Game Three of the 1971 ALCS, when he shut out the Orioles for two innings in relief. His last batter faced was Jim Palmer, and he struck of the future Hall of Fame pitcher.

-In 14 seasons Mudcat won 145, lost 119, saved 53, and had a 3.63 ERA.

-After retiring, Grant did some broadcasting for the A's, Dodgers, and Indians, and also worked in Cleveland's front office. He has been active with the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, the Baseball Assistance Team, and the MLB Alumni Association. Through his website The Black Aces and a book of the same name, he has promoted the 13 black pitchers who have had 20-win seasons in MLB and encouraged links among them.
#432 Jim Grant (back)


  1. Instead of the purple Twins card border, Grant gets the blue Cleveland border, and he's capless even though he was traded during the season. What, didn't they have enough lead time after the trade to get a pic of him in a Twins uniform? Ah well, those were the days in baseball cards.

  2. Agreed Austin, everything in this photo screams "Indians". Bear in mind, it was not uncommon for topps to recycle the same photo 3 years in a row (see Wayne Causey). Sometimes Topps would use a photo that was up to 6 year old (look up 1969 card of pitcher Sammy Ellis) The background in that card was the Polo Grounds which only used up until 1963.

  3. Austin - It seems like Topps did most of their photography in spring training and couldn't be bothered otherwise.

    Anon - Using old photos still happens. Last year Upper Deck used stadium photos for the team checklists in its O-Pee-Chee set, and the Orioles photo was from 2001, complete with the visiting Angels in their Disney-era pinstripe uniforms and Eddie Murray coaching first base for the Birds!

  4. In mid- and late-60s sets, the A.L. photos are mostly spring training or Yankee Stadium, w/N.L. in Shea. I have a few from '66-'67 clearly taken at Shibe Field in Philly, and some A.L. seem to be in Cleveland Stadium and RFK - Washington. I could be wrong but I think there was a contract dispute that led to very few new photos in '69, hence heavy re-cycling that year.

  5. It's interesting how significant players in 60's and one in the 70's did not have card(s) because of contract dispute. Previously mentioned Sammy Ellis won 22 games in '65 but had no card for '66set. The best know is Maury Wills 7 year holdout from being depicted on a topps card. Chris Short on this list too. Sandy Koufax didn't have a card for 1967 (although announced his retirement). Rusty Staub is absent from '72 and '73 sets. You could develope quite a fantasy team with these ommitted guys.

  6. Ellis is on card #250 in the 1966 set, but your point is well taken. You can add Tony Horton to the list of MIA from the 1960s'. Being from Cincy and not seeing him on Game Of The Week, I never knew what he looked like his entire career!

  7. mudcat's name is being heard again as he is the uncle of current phillies prospect dom brown.

  8. I love the active discussion on this post! Always glad to see people reading and participating on my blog. Anon, I did hear that Grant's nephew was Dom Brown. There's some buzz around him, although he struggled with the Phils as a rookie.